On the heels of the presidential election, Mayor Marilyn Strickland asked the City Council on Tuesday to reaffirm that Tacoma is a city where all people are treated equally.
It was the first time the council had met since the election of Donald Trump, who was widely criticized during his campaign for derogatory remarks about women, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, and other vulnerable and minority groups.
Strickland’s resolution was simple and not attached to any new policy or objective. Still, the reaction was emotional, from members of the council and from people attending the meeting.
“We just came out of a very long 15-month presidential election, and there were lots of comments made before, during and after the election that have put a lot of people in places of fear, uncertainty and really wondering who we are,” Strickland said. “I have heard stories of students who have been harassed and called names, I have heard stories of people seeing symbols of hate in their neighborhoods, and in many ways when we elect a president, we say a lot about who we are as a nation.”
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Strickland’s resolution sought to underscore Tacoma’s “commitment to the principles of equity and inclusion, and to continue defending, promoting and introducing policies and practices that seek to improve opportunities and quality of life for all residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.” It noted many of the actions the City Council has taken in the past to promote equity, including supporting the state’s marriage equality law and hosting workshops to build trust between police and members of the community.
The resolution passed, with several council members offering somber testimony about election fallout.
“I’ve had an opportunity this last week to sit down with some members of my community from the East Side, and the tears were not just tears, they were tears of fear,” said Councilman Marty Campbell. “There are people who are absolutely afraid of the future in this country.”
I’ve had an opportunity this last week to sit down with some members of my community from the East Side, and the tears were not just tears, they were tears of fear
Councilman Marty Campbell
Councilwoman Victoria Woodards was in tears as she addressed the crowd and reminded them not to allow hate to prevail in Tacoma.
“We will love and respect and honor everyone in this city because we’re all here and we all accept and love one another — that makes this city so incredibly great,” she said. “We’re seeing racism and hate in a way we’ve never seen it before because it seems acceptable, but not in Tacoma. We won’t accept that kind of behavior.”
One speaker during the meeting’s monthly citizens forum encouraged the council to do what it could to become a sanctuary city for immigrants. Others thanked Strickland for bringing the subject front and center at the meeting.
Marilyn Kimmerling said she has noted an “increase of hateful, hateful behavior and crimes” in the wake of the presidential campaign and election. “So this is really good that Mayor Strickland … did take the point of mentioning that. Hopefully it will put some strength in it,” she said.
On Monday, Tacoma high school students walked out of school at midday to protest the election of Trump and what they called the dangerous direction in which the country is headed. Gov. Jay Inslee put a message on Facebook on Tuesday saying any act of hate in the state is intolerable, referencing an incident Monday in Spokane in which a racial epithet was spray-painted on the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center.
At the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, Strickland urged anyone who sees a hateful act to speak out against it.
“We passed a resolution today that made a very strong statement that overt racism and harassment is not normal, no matter how much this election tried to make it mainstream,” she said. “If you have an opportunity to speak out against it and to use your voices, I encourage every single person who witnesses it to say something.”
Candice Ruud: 253-597-8441